Prime Minister Minnis: Government finalizing plans to accommodate return of Bahamians in the US

The Government is finalizing plans to secure a mandatory quarantine facility to accommodate the return of a number of Bahamians in the United States to New Providence, said Prime Minister the Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis.

There are approximately 200 Bahamians who want to return home, said the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister was speaking on Monday 27 April during a communication to the House of Assembly that included an update on the national response to COVID-19.

“We know from other jurisdictions how rapidly COVID-19 spread in other countries or locales because individuals who were COVID-19 positive returned to their home countries without being quarantined,” said Prime Minister Minnis.

“We cannot risk doing this in The Bahamas because this could lead to a wider outbreak of the virus.”

The quarantine facility for returning residents will be properly secured, the Prime Minister emphasized.

The Prime Minister said the Government is working to try to resolve this matter in the best interest of all concerned and in the best interest of the country.

To enforce quarantine protocols in general, the Prime Minister announced that the Emergency Orders will be amended to enforce a $20,000 dollar fine or five years imprisonment or both.

The Prime Minister pointed out that health officials have repeatedly noted that a number of those who should remain in quarantine or isolation at home are not doing so, which could result in greater spread of the virus.

As of 25 April, there were almost 800 individuals in quarantine.

To optimize the intent of the quarantine and isolation period, and to simultaneously enhance the support and monitoring of those in quarantine, the Ministry of Health has started to explore a number of solutions, said Prime Minister Minnis.

“It is envisaged that through the simple action of downloading an App, quarantined and isolated individuals could use their cellphones in a manner similar to a walkie-talkie,” said the Prime Minister.

With the touch of a single button the user may connect instantly with care agents, send an emergency assist alert for rapid response and talk to family and friends in a secured space.

The App is designed to help individuals in home quarantine and isolation to stay within the boundaries prescribed by the Surveillance team.

The App will collect anonymous data to ensure that the privacy of those using the App is respected, the Prime Minister noted.

“This may further empower these individuals to do their part to protect their mother, father, sister, brother, neighbor and fellow citizens, and reduce the risk of exposure to and spread of COVID-19 within the country,” said Prime Minister Minnis.